Back to school safety tips with Craig Swapp

It`s hard to believe it, but summer is almost over which means kids are walking to, from, and around schools. Should parents be concerned for their children`s safety?

- A staggering 68,000 pedestrians are hit by cars each year, and the victims are disproportionately children. Every year in Utah we have tragic cases where children are hit on streets around schools.

- The good news is that many of accidents involving kids hit by cars around schools are completely preventable. An often overlooked safety tip for children crossing streets is to teach them to stay off the gadgets while crossing the street. Having headphones in or looking at a cell phone screen at an intersection is especially dangerous as the pedestrian is often inattentive to potential dangers around them.
What else can parents do?
- A good idea I heard recently is walking the route with your kids so that they understand the safety the route requires. You could do this on the first day of school or on a weekend, just so that the children learn where the correct places to cross the street on their route are located.

- Make sure kids understand where to cross the street. They should always cross at crosswalks when available, and they need to be taught to follow the directions of the crossing guards. When there are no crosswalks they should be crossing safely at the corners of streets.

- Teach your children about not committing themselves to cross a crosswalk unless the car`s driver sees them and slows/stops. In today`s world, many drivers are driving distracted and are not focusing on the road.

- If your children take the bus, make sure that they watch for cars before attempting to cross the road to the bus. Just because the bus is showing flashing warning lights and a Stop sign, doesn`t always mean traffic will stop. Some irresponsible drivers ignore flashing lights and pass a stopped bus. [Interesting note, some bus Stop signs now carry cameras to capture the license plate numbers of cars illegally passing cars.]
How about when dropping kids off at school? We all know that can be a hectic scene
- Yeah, kids tend to run between and in front of cars when there are other cars in the way. When possible parents should pull all the way up to the curb before letting the kids out as close as possible to school doors. Never stop in the middle of the street to drop off your kids.
Great tips. What about the drivers? What can we do as driver`s to keep kids safe walking around schools?
- Slowing down in school zones is the biggest thing. This year the West Valley Police Department did a study where they monitored a crosswalk for 4 hours. 108 total violations by drivers were recorded. As drivers, it`s our responsibility to slow down near crosswalks and to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours in school zones.

- If it`s possible, it may be smartest for drivers to change up their commute route to avoid school zones, especially in the morning during the school year.
What`s the bottom line?
- The bottom line is that it`s everyone`s responsibility to make sure kids are safe walking to, from and around schools. Awareness is the biggest thing. Once kids understand how to be safe around crosswalks and drivers start slowing down appropriately, there will be fewer tragedies involving kids walking around schools.

To find more information or to contact Craig Swapp and Associates visit craigswapp.com